Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No More Ink Stained Fingers...

I'm sad to say that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is no long available as a broadsheet newspaper. It will only be available on-line. It shouldn't bother me much because I don't live in Seattle at the moment, and the online version is the only way I read it now.

Why am I grieving? It was the oldest newspaper in Seattle. It was founded several years before Washington became a state. It leaves the Seattle Times the only daily newspaper available to read without using an electric current. Besides, The Seattle PI is one of the few in the nation that doesn't use the word "Times", "News" or "Chronicle" on its masthead. And are they going to keep the iconic PI globe spinning on its headquarters overlooking the Puget Sound?

I became familiar with the PI even before I moved to Seattle in 1991. I was doing research on Seattle before I moved there by grabbing some out of town newspapers at a stand in New York City. I looked over the job listings and apartment listings to get an idea what my new home would be like.

When I got to Seattle, I would see the two dailies in newspaper boxes side by side. The Seattle Times won me over first because Calvin and Hobbes, the Far Side and Doonesbury were in it. The Seattle Times were also independent, while the PI was owned by the Hearst Corp. Still I found myself reading both of them most of the time because with the two newspapers the daily comic strip reading was phenomenal, 57 in all! The reason was because the PI was a morning paper and the Seattle Times was an afternoon. I thought that was a neat throwback to an earlier era.

The Sunday paper was actually a joint operation between the two newspapers made necessary back in the 80's to keep Seattle a two newspaper town. The PI only contributed the editorials and their comics. So it seemed to me that the PI was the Times lackey.

When Calvin and Hobbes and the Far side ceased to be and the PI picked up Zits and Mutts, the PI would be the go to newspaper. The Times also got rid of its house editorial cartoonist Brian Bassett while the PI still had David Horsey. I also noticed a conservative shift at the Times that pushed me away to the PI. When the Times went to a morning paper in 2000, it was only a matter of time before the day of reckoning would fall on one of the newspapers. The Times has the better operation while the PI tried to count on the powerful Hearst corporation. The Times sure lived up to the reputation of a morning newspaper by not having late night sports scores and continued to make cuts that made it unappealing.

Still, I continued to read it and the PI at the coffee shop down the street from me. The patrons of Cafe Ladro would read their newspapers and leave it behind. this gave me the opportunity to read the PI, The Seattle Times, USA Today, and if I was really lucky, the New York Times. My favorite morning routine of my life was made pleasurable due to the good coffee and the PI. I missed it when I moved back to Jersey and when I decide to move back to Seattle I'll miss getting my fingers stained by the PI.

It'll still be around online, which is how I read it these days. It is definitely one of the better websites based on a printed newspaper, so it should thrive on the internets. It's a sign of the times, it seems it happens in 20 year cycles. Many newspapers folded in the 60's, making multiple newspaper towns into two newspaper towns. the 80's had many two newspaper towns into one newspaper towns. Now we're going through another phase of losing newspapers and I dread who's going to be next. But if they follow the PI path at least there will be some content on the web we can trust.

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